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Artist to speak about his work on Tuesday

New York artist Greg Smith returns to Grinnell for a gallery talk on Tuesday, February 25 at 4:15. Smith’s two video installations are currently on view in Faulconer Gallery (through March 16). Both videos, Loop and Breakdown Lane, concern the artist as an ‘artifice mechanic,’ working with a car to change the driving, and breakdown, experiences. Smith developed the exhibition in January out of the materials used to make the videos. His videos and his installations challenge how we think of time spent behind the wheel and the work of creating art in any context.

Smith will be joined by Susan Inglett, long-time gallery owner in New York City from whom the Faulconer Gallery staff members have purchased a number of works of art. Smith and Inglett will meet with classes and with individual students while they are here, giving students access to professionals in the art world as they chart their own careers. Smith’s history is particularly instructive, since he has a Ph.D. in physics from Harvard University, but changed direction to art while in grad school. Life, like the experiences depicted in his art, rarely goes as planned! Stop by to hear his talk and ask your questions.

Decay: The Ephemeral Body in Art

This exhibition includes eight oversize works by three artists that consider the human body in varying states of decay. From instances of death and sickness to the body as metaphor, these works directly or indirectly ask us to examine our relationship to the unavoidable ephemeral state in which we reside. 

Curated by Hannah Fiske '14, Faulconer Gallery intern 

Artist transforms space, everyday objects

Sometimes it’s who you know. That’s how the Faulconer Gallery at Grinnell College became the site of Greg Smith’s exhibition “Quality Uncertainty: The Market for Lemons.”

Smith received a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship in 2013 based on his proposal for “Breakdown Lane,” one of two video installations in the exhibition. Guggenheim Fellows are scholars and artists who’ve already demonstrated significant achievements in their respective fields.

Daniel Strong, associate director and curator of exhibitions of the Faulconer Gallery, first visited Greg Smith's studio four years ago. When a slot opened up in the Faulconer Gallery's schedule, Strong invited Smith to exhibit his Guggenheim-funded project in Grinnell before showing it in New York.

“When we bring artists to town, especially from space-starved New York, they are amazed by the size of the Gallery,” Strong says. “It's incredibly liberating for them to have this much space to work in, and it's exciting for us to see how they transform it.”

Due to Smith's educational background — he holds advanced degrees in both physics and art —Strong also sensed his presence on campus might resonate with a broad range of student and faculty interests.

With the help of several students, Smith created immersive environments for “Loop,” a video installation he showed in New York in 2012, as well as for “Breakdown Lane.” The “Breakdown Lane” exhibit includes the many improvised cameras used in making the video as well as a host of other props, including pieces of the car that is the centerpiece.

Smith, who appears in both videos as what he calls an “artifice mechanic,” describes his character as clearly competent, earnest, yet also a little clueless. “He's a guy who’s trying to create something, trying to structure his environment, but who’s also kind of hapless, and, in the end, probably doomed.”

Kind of like that feeling of being stuck on the side of the road.

New Year, New Exhibitions


“Works in Clay” by Jill Davis Schrift, lecturer in art, and “Quality Uncertainty: The Market for Lemons” by New York-based artist Greg Smith will be on display in the Faulconer Gallery from Friday, Jan. 24 through Sunday, March 16.   

About “Quality Uncertainty: The Market for Lemons”

Smith draws inspiration from Nobel Prize-winning economic research, American car culture, and classic “road movies” for this video installation. Smith’s videos and installations pivot around machines and hand-made devices with precise engineering and haphazard artfulness, creating an ideal customized vehicle. 

Smith received his Ph.D. in physics from Harvard University before pursuing a career as an artist. He is the recipient of a 2013 Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship based on his proposal for “Breakdown Lane.” Comprised of his makeshift cameras, plastic lawn furniture, a bathtub, and a used Lexus ES300, the work will have its debut at the Faulconer Gallery – one of two video installations on view.

About “Works in Clay”

In her second solo exhibition at the Faulconer Gallery, Schrift creates ceramic work to transform and enrich the daily routine of eating and drinking to an artful experience. In the vase series, Schrift brings together traditional vessel forms with contemporary techniques to activate the surface of clay. 

Schrift has been a lecturer in art at Grinnell College since 1988, teaching ceramics, drawing, and introduction to the studio. Past exhibitions have included her pastel drawings of the annual Paris beach at the Bibliothèque Marguerite Audoux, Paris; collages at Les Vergers de l’Art, Paris; and pastel drawings, collages and ceramic work at the Grinnell (Iowa) Regional Medical Center and at the Grinnell Arts Center. 

Public Events

Faulconer Gallery will host the following public events during the joint exhibition:

  • Fri., Jan. 24, 4:15 p.m.: Opening reception. Light refreshments served.
  • Mondays and Thursdays, 12:15 p.m.: Yoga in the gallery for beginners and experienced practitioners. Co-sponsored by Live Well Grinnell. Mats are provided. 
  • Sat., Feb. 1, 1:30 p.m.: Enjoy making functional and playful clay forms at Community Day with artist Jill Davis Schrift, view a demonstration by Schrift, and tour the exhibitions. 
  • Thurs., Feb. 6, 4:15 p.m.: A roundtable discussion with Elizabeth Graver, professor of English at Boston College, and author of “The End of the Point.” A reading from Graver will follow at 8 p.m. Sponsored by Writers@Grinnell.
  • Thurs., Feb. 20, 4:15 p.m.: In “Objects of My Affection,” artist Jill Davis Schrift will talk about the development of her work over time. 
  • Tues., Feb. 25, 4:15 p.m.: Artist Greg Smith will discuss the relationships between the process, the content, and the structure of his piece “Breakdown Lane.”

Gallery hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., seven days a week, and admission is free. Faulconer Gallery is located in the Bucksbaum Center for the Arts.

Students Provide Expertise in Wunderkammer Exhibit


Students in Museum Studies (Art 260) will explore works in "From Wunderkammer to the Modern Museum, 1606-1884" as significant examples from a past age, and as precursors to museum practices as we know them today.

Each student will be stationed by her display case and audience members can move from one to another, learning more and asking questions at 4:15 Tuesday, Dec. 3 in the Faulconer Gallery.

The student presenters are:

  • Elizabeth Allen ’16 (art history),
  • Sarah Burnell ’14 (anthropology),
  • Elle Duncombe-Mills ’16 (gender, women's, and sexuality studies),
  • Hanna Feldman ’14 (political science),
  • Ellie Garza ’14 (psychology),
  • Sarah Henderson ’16 (undeclared),
  • Elli Jung ’16 (undeclared),
  • Courtney Martin ’15 (anthropology/theatre),
  • Adriyel Mondloch ’14 (anthropology),
  • Pauline Poon ’14 (English),
  • Becca Rea-Holloway ’15 (religious studies),
  • Emma Vale ’16 (art), and 
  • Anya Vanecek ’15 (anthropology).

The class is under the direction of Lesley Wright, director of the Faulconer Gallery and lecturer in art.

Books Breaking the Cycle of Slavery

Step into the Rosenfield Lobby on Dec. 6, and you’ll find a special kind of book sale.

The 2012 Book Sale

During her fellowship with 2011 Grinnell Prize winner James Kofi Annan’s organization, Challenging Heights, Tilly Woodward, curator of academic and public outreach, found a wonderful way to empower child slavery survivors — teaching them to create books.

“I wanted kids to have a special place of their very own to write and draw,” says Woodward. "The director, Madam Linda, wanted a second book that could be sold to donors, giving children money for their schooling when they left the shelter.” Before she left Ghana, Woodward trained the shelter director and house mothers how to marble paper and make books.

When Linda Ludwig, technology services desk team lead, came back from her fellowship at Challenging Heights this summer, Woodward was thrilled to learn the tradition continues.

“[Ludwig] brought me over 90 books made by children at the shelter,” Woodward says. “These are children who are new at the shelter since my time in Ghana, so it was really gratifying to see bookmaking continue.”

The books — handsewn blank journals — will be on sale from 10:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 6, in the Rosenfield Lobby.  The minimum price is $5 per book; higher payments accepted. The money goes towards the book-creator's education. “There is no free education in Ghana, and education is one of the key factors in ending the cycle of child slavery,” says Woodward.

Wonder, Culture, and the Scientific Method


Panel: 4:15 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 19, Bucksbaum Center Faulconer Gallery
Panel: 4:15 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 21, Bucksbaum Center Faulconer Gallery

A “Wunderkammer,” or room of wonders, was at once a study, a laboratory, and a social space wherein people collected oddities and were inspired to learn more through the cognitive emotion “wonder.” Two panels with Grinnell College faculty investigate the concept of wonder and its manifestations in culture and science.

On November 19 the panel on “Wonder and Culture” will explore how wonder infused and shaped cultural expression in the early modern period.

Speakers are: Vance Byrd, assistant professor of German; Vanessa Lyon, assistant professor of art history; and Catherine Rod, special collections librarian and archivist of the College.

On November 21, “Wonder and the Scientific Method” integrates the seemingly subjective concept of wonder with the development of science as we came to know it. Panelists include: James Lee, assistant professor of English; Tammy Nyden, associate professor of philosophy; and Joshua Sandquist, assistant professor of biology.

Both panels take place in Faulconer Gallery, 641-269-4660.